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Early movements

The 60's is often noted as a period of profound social transformation of U.S. society, driven forth by the Civil Rights struggles and the anti-war movement, and fueled by the awakening to the injustice and inequality rooted deep in the contractions of U.S. society. Asian Americans began to critically reexamine their own experiences. Some Asian Americans students, disillusioned and outraged at the U.S. war of aggression in Vietnam, were among the first to organize anti-war protests; realizing that Asian Americans shouldn't be fighting abroad but here at home to better our conditions.

Inspired by the civil rights struggles, Asian American students fought alongside other Third World students at San Francisco State and across the country to demand that the university serve the people and open its doors to students of color. After exhausting all channels of communications, Third World students resorted to rallies, sit-ins, and takeovers that forced the University to open its doors. Thus, Asian Americans won the right to a quality education and enter universities and colleges in significant numbers. Ethnic studies and other supportive programs were established to made education relevant to us.

During the early 70's, Asian American organizations were established to deal concretely with their specific needs and concerns. Asian American student organizations (ASO's) were formed on campuses throughout the East Coast to address the issues of identity and educational rights. Some Asian American students went back "to serve our community" and formed community organizations to address basic issues of housing and health services.

Impact of the Bakke decision

In 1978, the Supreme Court upheld Allan Bakke's claim that he had not been admitted to UC Davis medical school due to "reverse discrimination." To many people, this decision represented an attack on the civil right gains made in the 60's. It also sparked a huge struggle led by Third World students against this decision. The decision was a statewide challenge that required a new level of organization. Rallying against the Bakke Decision, Asian American students recognized the need for a network capable of providing a broader perspective, mutual support, and the capacity for collective action. This led to the founding of the West Coast Asian Pacific Student Union (APSU), the Midwest Asian Pacific American Student Organization network, and ECASU, with regions in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.

East Coast Asian Student Union

The 80's was generally considered a period of conservatism with the Right on the move in attacking not only Affirmative Action, but also questioning: reproductive rights, language rights, freedom of speech, social services, environment, and "back to basics" in education. It is sometimes considered the "me" generation bombarded with "careerism" without any sense of social responsibility. Asian Americans were touted as the "successful," "model minority" in Newsweek and Time. All this came in the midst of wording economy and declining U.S. influences globally.

However, this decade has seen a plethora of changes, winding from the sudden surges in Asian American populations in colleges nationwide, to the scapegoating of Asians in the Clinton campaign scandal and the Lawrence Labs debacle. Even more recently, the Wen Ho Lee incident has shown that Asian Americans are not safe from racial profiling and stereotyping. In the past eight years, Asian populations in juvenile systems have doubled in parts of the country, and by all accounts the fissure between the haves and the have-nots within our very own community has widened too far.[citation needed] APA’s have also seen a resurgence of Asian American activism, from the gradual strengthening of collegiate groups to the bold organizing of the 80-20 Initiative. With eyes on these trends, ECASU looks to strengthen the East Coast Asian student community, and to bring us to new heights of awareness, activism, and pride in the APA community.

2007: ECAASU National Board Revival

Following the Yale ECAASU Conference, the National Board experienced a period of revival as well. The National Board itself grew from 2 people to 12 people, occupying 10 board positions. In addition, ECAASU began to apply for non-profit status. New boards were also created, including the Board of Directors (aka Directorate) and the ECAASU Representatives Council [2] (which includes about 60 people from 40 schools in 2008). The National Board has also taken steps to create ECAASU events outside of the yearly conference [3], including regional fall mixers. Last, the National Board has revived the ECAASU journal, which used to be called Asian American Spirit, now titled Envision [4]. Last, ECAASU started the Affiliate Schools Project, an online database of profiles of ECAASU member schools [5]. This project enables schools to get to know each other's communities and build bridges that way.